UK PC Pop – The 90s, Japan, and a New Wave of Pop Music in the UK

There was a time in the 90’s when the Internet was truly and uniquely itself. Websites wore primitive clip art hearts on their sleeves, links lead to dead end pages and midi loops would play on every page. Even getting on the Internet felt like an adventure. One had to make sure nobody would need the phone for an hour or so. Our surf sessions weren’t dictated by Google’s flawless formula. The Internet felt like a slave to chance.

There’s a reason for that explanation of the Internet in the 90s, I promise. Something happened yesterday. While checking in on Sweden pop group TVÅ to see if they had released any new music, I was redirected by their twitter to a song by A.G. Cook entitled Beautiful.

That song, an infectiously quick paced track with a pop sensibility, played from a label called PC Music’s soundcloud page. Perhaps driven by late night restlessness I decided to do a little research on the label. What I found immediately made me nostalgic for the Internet of my childhood. First and foremost, look at their website, the aptly titled PCMusic.Info .

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If it weren’t for soundcloud’s sleek player in the lower portion of the page, the site would look right at home next to the Space Jam website (Seriously click the link, the space jam website is still around) Furthermore listen to the track at the top of the player, Hannah Diamond’s “Pink and Blue”.

This track, yet another pop song, has artist Hannah Diamond playing the voice of her own Diary. The heights of her pitch could ring false with listeners, but instead they blend nicely with a supporting track that recalls the midi music of old.

In short, PC Music’s tracks sound appropriate for their name. For the first time in a while I felt like I stumbled across something. Like this wasn’t by design of the Universal Music Group or Sony or whomever. This was just like finding a flash game that you knew your friends hadn’t found yet. This music is distinctly computer.

PC Music Label founder A.G. Cook was interviewed by Tank Magazine’s Sohrab Golsorkhi-Ainslie and unveiled his vision for the label.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing a bit of an A&R role, not just through finding new music but also by embracing the major label concept of ‘artistic development’. I particularly enjoy recording people who don’t normally make music and treating them as if they’re a major label artist. Often we end up developing a really strong musical and visual identity,”

So lets look at these artists that are being grown by PC Music. We’ve already mentioned Hannah Diamond and label founder A.G. Cook but there are numerous other artists that make up the weird collective. Consider artist GFOTY (Girlfriend of the year?)

PC Music as a collective is obviously interested in its visual stamp. Check out their Tumblr.

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It is quite obviously interested in mirroring vanity blog culture. Just look at the lipsticks, the lips and Hannah Diamond who also does makeup professionally. But their presence on tumblr alone recalls the idea of the internet and excess through the power of the web. Blog culture and the extreme is a major driving force in the visual and sonic representation of UK pop right now. Consider the major players like Charli XCX.

The music and imagery is obsessed with layers, bright colors and quick rhythms in both BPM and visual editing. Lets also not dismiss the influence of Japan on this culture. Just like the Charli XCX video, A.G. Cook of PC Music is actively in dialogue with Japanese culture. A.G. Cook did a project with company LOGO for Illamasqua makeup. The project, as stated by Cook himself, “is based on Japanese “Gyaru” fashion magazines such as Koakuma Ageha, which are visually extreme even by Japanese standards” (Cook/ Golsorkhi-Ainslie). The website can be viewed HERE.

Perhaps this niche of music can be best summarized by Bip Ling’s “Bipping”.

All of these visual and sonic elements are all distinctly computer. If you spend enough time hopping between these artists and their websites you’ll even see some quality clip art. Maybe it’s that fact alone that cultivates my nostalgia for the 90s when exposed to the aforementioned works.